Conquering My Fears

It was the great Eleanor Roosevelt who said “Do one thing every day that scares you.” It was either her, or Baz Luhrmann in The Sunscreen Song. Either way, I’ve never been real into taking this advice literally, until today. I faced my fear of hot sugar syrup and I said, one way or another, I’m leaving here today w/ marshmallows, whether I have to make batch after batch or run across the street to the convenience store and pick up a jumbo pack of Jet-Puffed.

Fortunately I got it right on the first try b/c those suckers take like five hours to set, so I wouldn’t have had time to make another batch. 

I don’t know why marshmallows have always scared me. Let me clarify: I’m not scared of a tiny, fluffy little marshmallow. In fact, they’re probably scared of me b/c whenever I see a marshmallow, I’ll eat it. Putting it in hot chocolate, cookies, between two grahams and some chocolate, or straight up, I am an equal opportunity marshmallow lover. Making marshmallows is another story; whipping up a batch of ‘mallows is something I’ve been scared of. Until today when I went all Eleanor Roosevelt/Baz Luhrman on those sugary puffs of heaven and conquered my fear.

Something about hot sugar syrup really scares me. It can crystallize, forming a huge, unusable lump out of your previously usable liquid (been there). It can burn, creating a blackened mess and a scorched pot you guiltily bring to the dishroom (definitely been there). It can burn you, clinging to your skin and taking a patch of it off (the worst of all the been theres, by far).

Ready to make some marshmallows now, or what? 

Don’t be scared off, b/c these things are easily avoidable. In fact, the hardest thing about making marshmallows is waiting for them to set. See above when I said it takes like five hours. 

These marshmallows are worth the time and effort, though. They’re so squishy! Does that sound weird? They are, though, in the most delectable way. I couldn’t stop popping them into my mouth as I was cutting them, and was hoarding them all until I got a sugar stomachache and put them up as snacks for the staff. Full disclosure: I still grabbed a scrap every time I walked by them. Totally worth the stomachache.

I knew for my first time making them I needed a foolproof recipe, so I went to Martha. Martha Stewart has yet to steer me wrong, and I hope I never live see the day she does. A few tiny tweaks to her recipe: they need longer than 3 hours to set. Honestly, they probably could set overnight, but I was too excited to wait until tomorrow. I waited 5 hours and they were still a little tricky to cut. Don’t make these if you have friends coming over for a bonfire in an hour. She gives the measurement of 1.5 cups confectioners’ sugar to use to cut them, but I used waaaaaay more than that. Did I mention how squishy these are? Be prepared to get confectioners’ sugar all over yourself and your kitchen and make sure it’s all over the marshmallows, b/c that’s the only way they’ll cut.

Are these better than store bought? Here’s my take on that: if you’re a marshmallow afficianado, you might not like these better. They’re different. They’re still light and fluffy and gooey and delicious, but to me, store bought are fluffier and homemade are denser, if that makes sense. You can absolutely taste the difference, and if you’re an all around marshmallow lover, these are your new addiction. If you’re a Jet-Puffed loyalist, you might want to keep buying your ‘mallows.

Either way, you should give these a shot, if only to do one thing today that scares you. It’s really empowering. I bet no one’s ever said that about making candy before.